A ZINE BY THE VOICES AGAINST VIOLENCE PROJECT
SUMMER 2010 Issue 3
There is no guarantee how one will react to a particular writing when you are a survivor. One day I might feel words inspiring and truth telling, another day I might find them abrasive, insulting, or insinuating weakness. I say this because as a reader, you might find these writings triggering, not helpful, judgemental, totally off, fucked up, questionable, right on, brutally honest, truthful, inspiring.
con amor, Noemi Martinez Viva la resistencia
thoughts from the editor
zine info & call out
Leaving the Familiar
woman with a black eye
victim, survivor, thriver
Rape, community, break-down: some personal notes
I'm juice fasting
Mas Vale Tarde Que Nunca
I count stars
Miss Celie's Blues
A la mujer the other nite on 63rd Drive and the team of chicas who stepped up
Cynthia Oka shoshi a Pippa
Aidybert Silva-Ortiz Ondine Quinn M'aia Elle
Maegan "la Mamita Mala" Ortiz
Attending the funeral of kin & abusers
out noemi martinez
psalm for the taken: in honor of the missing and murdered womyn of the Downtown Eastside
creating a new mythos media tk karakashian tunchez
diy style What is the Voces Zine? A zine-diy style, with work from people of color, indigenous folks, trans people & queer survivors of domestic violence, sexual violence and sexual assault. Included topics can be: healing from trauma, transformative words used as a healing mechanism, enabling healing, life after trauma, self-help guides/resources, self-healing, dancing as means to healing, healing through narration, forgiveness (do we need it?), & collective trauma. Voices Against Violence zine is to be used as a community teaching tool, as a jump off for discussion and creative outlet and for conversations that need to happen. When: Issues come out at no specific time. Submissions, time, and money all come into play when issues are printing. Submissions: Send submissions via email, either in text in the body of the email or attached in .txt format. If special formatting applies, let me know to make sure we are able to open it. For images, send high quality scans as we usually print in b/w. n the subject enter voices against violence submission. Include a brief bio, your mailing address, website if any. Mention your zine or any upcoming projects you’d like. If you prefer to remain anonymous, let me know or include a pen name. Keep in mind, this project is a zine and printed as a zine not a glossy mag. How to help: How ever you see yourself participating, send me an email with what you have in mind-especially the following: Editor of a particular section, Proof readers , media, fundraising. No pay, lots of love. *Translators. I would like to translate this zine in Spanish. This would take time and effort and it's a big project that is why I won't take it on my own. Maybe it can be a class project or your participation can go towards college hours or needed volunteer or intern hours in conjunction with a class.
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This zine can be downloaded free at caferevoluction.org. It can also be purchased at csdistro.com for cost of paper, printing & postage. ╔╗ please consider donating firstname.lastname@example.org ╚╝ Letters, comments, submissions, love letters and bits of paper can be sent to: Noemi Martinez RE: Voces PO Box 2053 Donna, TX 78537 email@example.com
Leaving the Familiar Dot Hearn This growing awareness that I need to go or that you need to go won't stay hidden. I've tried so long to ignore it and have successfully ignored it. I mean, it didn't even have a presence in my life until recently. And so I'm writing this to you, but I will never give it to you. I keep thinking that it's my fault. That I should have left but where would I go. You effectively severed me from my family -- and blamed them. You are so good at that. They are in the wrong and evil, too, but now I know no more evil than you. So where would I go? Why can't I just go alone somewhere and sort this all out? I've tried to talk to you, to tell you that what you are doing is wrong. But you just laugh and call me crazy. You threaten me but never touch because you know that's my line. How many times have I thought - just hit me, once, please, so I can go? A slap. No, I'd probably waive that, too. Find a reason it was my fault. It would have to be a punch. A shove won't do and we've already established that. Holding a shotgun to my head while I was asleep and then waking me up? No that wasn't it, either - you didn't actually touch me - not even to wake me up, you just yelled. Like you yell a lot. Like you accuse, you make up stories, you tell lies. To me. Sometimes in public you say things to people that are blatantly not true and dare me to say something like how you were in a movie or your father is a millionaire rather than a sleazy used car salesman in Reno. And I don't. I jokingly tried once to correct you and it was hell in public and you humiliated me so much right there and then when we got home. Come to think of it there was a bruise that time on my arm, but it went away quickly and you said it wasn't you, anyway. Why can't I hold on to this clarity when it's light. Or when you're away and I could escape. But I don't and I can't and I won't. You've said you'll find me no matter where I go and I know you will. You've said you'll never let me go and I believe you. You say you love me and I guess you do in your way but I don't understand why you would be this way with someone you love. And if I thought I had chance of escape of not making this mistake again, maybe I would risk it. But you've sworn over and over that you will kill yourself or me or maybe both. And I believe you. I wish I could survive like Gloria Gaynor. I wish I could know that I would survive without you or in spite of you but you tell me I can't and that you will make sure I can't. It's getting light. I know I will forget and if I don't, I'll find another play to dump myself into and pick up some extra shifts at work or tell my manager that, yes, I'll take on that employee training project he wants me to do. -*-*-*I agree to be assistant lighting designer for "The Cole Porter Review" at Pentacle Theater and run the lights during the show. Then Dan asks me to be his Stage Manager for "The House at Pooh Corner" and I agree. Pooh rehearsals will start when Cole Porter goes into final dress. I take on the employee training program at the McDonald's in Salem where I am first assistant manager. I will also be including a new birthday party training, since those are becoming so popular. I
hate giving the birthday parties, the noise, the mess, the demanding parents and the whiny-neversatisfied kids. But with my assistant manager status, I've been relieved from having to run the parties; and I am grateful. We've moved into the big house with Joyce and her grown kids and some exchange students from Hawaii. I don't know why they're called exchange students since we're all under the same government. Or last I knew and I don't really care. The guys help keep the rent down for us. Though the house is really crowded and we have only one small room. But since I'm the only one of us working right now, the rent break is nice. And sometimes I like the company, although Joyce and Tammy Jo, her daughter, sometimes look at me funny. I know they want to ask me something but I look away. I don't want to answer whatever it is. They don't ask. -*-*-*I found this note I wrote in the dark of the night a couple years ago. I'd tucked it away in the flap of the book I was reading at the time. I don't think I'd ever written anything like that down before and I was surprised that I kept it. I'm guessing I meant to throw it away. I'm guessing that Randy was waking up and I hid it so he wouldn't find it. I'm guessing. Because I forget. Or I forgot. I'm working on not forgetting although it often happens before I even know it and it is so quick and total that no trace is left if I blink at the wrong time. So I have this note. I'll keep it. I did leave him. I left Randy one day when he was in Reno visiting his car salesman dad who smells bad and is skinny and hunched and whose smile of brown rotting teeth gives me goose bumps on my arms. Randy left to visit his dad and I called my parents and they helped me haul out the things that were mine. That was before I came out to my parents. Before they disowned me. Before I told them that Emily and I were more than just friends. It all started with the kiss with Chris - Chris as in Christine, not Christopher - during Cole Porter rehearsals. I grew up in such a bigoted home that I never considered the possibility that I might be a lesbian. It wasn't out of the question - there was no question. So there was Chris; which never went beyond that kiss. But he saw us. And he liked it. He saw me standing outside of her truck in the grass near the set barn at Pentacle Theater and he saw her kiss me through the open window. And he saw me relax into, saw my body respond to her, saw my pink hue when I turned after he called my name. He liked it and encouraged me, as long as he could be involved. Sometimes he found a woman to bring home; not just any woman, but someone I knew. Several of them. I didn't want him there but he said I was bi and that was okay and he wanted to be there. There were some verbal threats about outing me to my parents and my ultra-religious manager at the McDonald's franchise where I worked and had just become assistant manager. So Randy was with us in the bed and sometimes the women didn't really want to be with a woman but they liked the attention; he said. It wasn't often. But it was enough that I knew. Until I forgot or until Randy reminded me that we
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got so far swaddling tender cheekbones, wet pillowed in Kleenex sit with a shrink catalogue your bruises preserve your sadness like peaches
under camouflage of madness memory goes marauding shut your lids tight draw close garb of ashes this pedestal took blood to build this patent on authentic misery took the draining of bones on black days when insides weep lay down the scythe unwrap your bandages
wear loud this tiara of grief unravel your nerve endings daily cuddle those nightmares closer than sensual laughter rocking liver rewind, replay pause at despair.
let them wounds breathe let them scab and itch and fall away.
a slow waltz of bodies leaking lead lit fluorescent from deserving to decadent itemize tears like prizes skilled alchemist, this swollen eye. fill pockets with talk bellies with prescriptions measure barren hope in cubic feet: one sterilized room to another. in the name of trauma, forfeit push of your fist venom of your curse havoc of your cunning untamed and multiplied, quilted limbs capable of carnage and creation. in the name of safety, forget brothers you lock up trannies you lock out queers you lock back in the closet embrace the uniform, the dollar, the law sip mercies lethal like homogenized milk.
were married and that I had no where to go. And he threatened to follow me, no matter what. No matter where. He wouldn't let me go, he said. But two weeks ago he pinned me to the wall. He accused me of an affair with someone I didn't know. Which was ironic since we supposedly had an open relationship. And I had slept with his best friend, Mike, a few times; although Randy never knew. And Mike's wife never knew. And Randy and I were both sleeping with Emily at that time - him going solo and with me it was always the three of us. I was also sleeping with her husband - which Randy knew and she knew. So it made no sense, that outrage, the now escalating physical threats, the blame and the humiliation. I knew I had to leave and I knew I had fallen in love with Emily. I even told her one night in the kitchen of my house about falling in love. She didn't believe that I knew what love was, I was too young, she said, and I didn't let her convince me. She said I could move in with her and her husband. For a while. Richard and I weren't having sex any more; it was boring and we were emotionally way different people. When Randy said he was going to Reno, I knew that was my chance. I also knew he was going down there for more than just to visit his dad. And when I found the bruise on my arm the next morning, after being pinned to the wall while he yelled into my face, there was no turning back.
-*-*-*I keep writing. Letting the stories unfold. I still keep that note to myself so that I won't forget. My mind still wants to shove aside what's uncomfortable, what doesn't fit, what's scary, and that is. Or it was, but sometimes my senses react as if the danger is still here. And sometimes I wonder as my birthday approaches if he'll be in touch again. And how or when. It's been nearly 27 years since I left and I still have bad dreams once in a while. Nightmares with actual memories and with things he threatened to do. They no longer prevent me from going certain places we used to go to together and I'm not vigilant about the possibility of seeing his face on the street. My scars are invisible unless you know me. Unless I write about them, you'd never know. Dot Hearn is a writer and sign language interpreter in Portland, Oregon. Her writings have appeared in Alltopia, Prism, Six Sentences, and she was a contributor and editor for "On the Fly: Stories in Eight Minutes or Less." Dot is also a writing workshop facilitator for Write Around Portland and dabbles in writing scripts. One of her radio scripts, "Crossroads #1: Confinement," was produced by the Sudden Radio Project and broadcast on KBOO. She was also a script writer, director, and actor for First A.C.T, a child abuse prevention drama troupe.
-*-*-*Emily and I have been together just over 20 years now. It's taken some work, but we're still here together. Her two kids are grown and one has a son and a husband we don't really like. Last week, Emily set up her web page on the Psychology Today website. Two days later she received an email from Randy, telling her to tell me that he still thinks of me every day, and to tell me happy birthday. He and I eloped on my 18th birthday. Drove to Reno to get married, in the classical way at that time. So my birthday was also our wedding anniversary; I left him two weeks before it would have been number seven. Emily debated about whether or not to tell me about the email. She knows that I still sometimes have nightmares about him and it's only been the last 10 years that I've had stretches of time where I don't expect him to find me and stalk me or hurt me. But she decides I need to know and so she tells me.
$1 survivor pin csdistro.com
She didn't reply to him. I don't want to reply to him. I just want to forget him and what he did. But he does surface every now and then; an email, showing up somewhere when I'm there. Only I'm not really afraid any more. At least not when it's light. Not when I'm in public. Not when he wouldn't dare touch me; make a scene. I don't think he has our address. And I know I could be wrong.
shoshi a i came into work with a black eye. did you see her eye? everyones asking each other. i can hear them whispering the words eye and how and believe and blue and when i turn to them they fall quiet and look away, so i know. its not even my eye that makes me angry, or his message on my answering machine, or the price of cover-up at the drug store, or the broken vase, shards of clear green glass in the trash bucket. its all that whispering. all that pppst pssst all those half finished sentences and all those downward glances and all those concerned voices. everyone thinks they know what a black eye is. no girl with a black eye got it playing softball, wrestling with her dog, getting in a bar fight, bumping around her dark kitchen drunk. no one even asks how i got it, cuz they think they know it all. everyone looks at me and doesnt see me. they see the face of that woman on the shelter advertisement. they see a girl huddled in a corner. they see a chick who just wont leave, no matter what you tell her. they look at me and they dont see me. cuz i aint no fucking weak, limp, helpless, shaking, hiding, trembling, dying, lonely, battered girl. i'm a woman with a black eye. Victim, Survivor, Thriver. It can feel very empowering to be able to say, 'I'm no longer a victim, I'm a survivor' or 'I'm not just surviving, I'm thriving!' and such a sense of empowerment can be really beneficial. But I am also wary of these terms, for a few reasons. 1) If we do feel very much a victim, then we can feel inferior that we do not have a sense of surviving or thriving. When it takes all our energy just to breathe, feeling that we are failures for our lack of 'thriver' status is unhelpful, and damaging. 2) The process of coping with past sexual abuse is rarely linear. We don't start off 'not coping' then start 'surviving' then start 'thriving', and from then on all is well in our world. We go through many emotions and responses, sometimes numerous times. We have periods of feeling on top of everything and other periods when all that 'everything' lands right on top of us. Having declared ourselves to be thriving, if we suddenly find that we are feeling like we are drowning in flashbacks and bad memories, it can then be difficult to admit or recognise it, without feeling a huge sense of failure, that we have moved backwards instead of forwards. The process is in fact mixed up and circular and strange, and feeling bad again after you had started feeling good is normal and to be expected. That's not to say that you shouldn't celebrate feeling good, or enjoy it, for fear that it won't last. Just that if it isn#'t permanent, that shouldn't be something extra to beat yourself up about. If the labels help you, use them. But don't define yourself entirely by any of them. Life just doesn't work that way. Pippa is a zinester living in the north of England. She is a survivor of sexual violence and made a zine on this subject, called Rebel Grrl Zine: The Survive Issue. "Victim, Survivor, Thriver" was written originally for that zine. She also makes the 50:50 zines, the Art of Procrastination Zine and Change the World in 7 Days zine. You can find out more about these at www.rebelgrrlzine.co.uk Mailing address: Pippa, PO Box 4663, Sheffield, S1 9FN, United Kingdom.
rape, community, some personal notesbreak-down
i. it starts when he enters the house in the middle of the night while my mum is sleeping on the couch because she’s scared shitless and doesn’t wanna leave me alone. he gets into a fight with my roommate who tells him to Get The Fuck Out Of Our House after he calls her a Dyke Bitch. there’s a police chase and he’s caught and arrested and spends the night in jail. i’m drunk at the neighbour’s house and i miss all of this. some might call this Foreshadowing. ii. but wait. maybe it starts before that. maybe it starts when he asks me to go for breakfast a few weeks ago, while we lay in bed the morning after. he says he’ll pay for it and i really don’t know what to say because i guess i’m scared. or shocked. i say yes but i invite all my roommates to come with us because i figure there’s safety in numbers. we eat eggs and sausages and all i can think about is his breath, and his faint body odour, and his hand on my thigh. he tells me he doesn’t actually have any money so i end up paying for his breakfast which later makes me feel sick and hate myself. after breakfast, i tell my roommates i don’t wanna see him again and to just say i’m not home if he calls or stops by. i guess they figure it was a one-night stand thing. iii. he begins stopping by my house clandestinely, leaving letters for me saying that i’m evil and manipulative but that he loves me. they don’t make any sense. they scare me and i begin to have panic attacks. like, what if he shows up with a weapon or what if he overpowers me and holds me captive or tries to rape me again? one time he stops by and i accidentally answer the door. i’m home alone and i wish there was some kind of anti-o manual about what to do when the guy who raped you last week begins stalking you and writing sick sexual love letters about all the dirty things he wants to do with you and how much he hates you and shows up at your door with sex toys and crazy-looking eyes. iv. no one even knows he raped me. v. finally i tell my mum. i’m standing across the dining room table from her. i tell her about the letters. i hesitate. there’s a long silence and i whisper He Raped Me and the words sound so foreign, hearing them for the first time. she takes me to get an exam so that i can begin to heal, i guess. my ass is still bleeding and i still haven’t cried about it all yet. vi. my bed feels dirty all the time and i can’t sleep in it. i start dating my ex-boyfriend again, mostly so that i can sleep in his bed. we broke up a couple of years ago because he started to get violent. but this time he’s different. he puts on my clothes for me when it’s a really bad day and let’s me cry and scream and be really fucked up. he says things like “if I ever see that Dick, I will kill him for you.” I totally fall in Love with him again. vii. i get kicked out of the rape crisis volunteer training i was taking. one night during training i tell everyone that i had just been raped. i say it really matter-of-factly and everyone hides their surprise. after class, the coordinator says i shouldn’t come back. i cry and tell her that i’m sorry and that i had been really enthusiastic to work with them and i didn’t mean to fuck everything up.
viii. my roommate comes home one day and says “we are sexually connected!” like it’s some kind of awesome, spiritual connection. apparently she fucked some guy, who fucked some girl, who fucked the guy who raped me. i scream at her, “rape is NOT sex” but i don’t really think she gets it. ix. Where are all my friends? Where is the community? i can’t tell if i keep pushing them away because intimacy scares me or if ‘community’ is bullshit. it’s probably a combination of both. i have long talks with people about community support instead of police assistance— about using the protection of organized, politicized communities rather than relying on the state. when is it ok to go to the police? where is the community when you need them? x. my ass stopped bleeding. am I better? xi. Summer Love: so many drunk nights that it all turns into one epic story. i feel like a hero. i dress slutty. i go skinny-dipping in the river and steal passionate kisses under the shade and lose my shoes and ride my bike barefoot. i start making a zine about rape and reclaiming sexuality and survival and my ex-boyfriend who i started dating again tells me i’m a disgusting slut. he says that he can’t deal with my past. i dump that fucker and feel proud for it. i can say No now. i start fucking someone else and we get drunk and have sex under the stars and fall into some kind of weird, desperate love spell. he’s a drunk but so am I, so it works. one day at a music festival he freaks out and pushes my friend down a hill and then punches me to the ground in front of everyone. he asks to borrow money for crack the same night. everything falls apart again. i tell my roommates to Fuck Off, Don’t Talk to Me. i cry all my tears out and all i have left is a steady numbness and lots of booze to make me feel something again. i feel so cliché. i am so cliché. i stop saying No again. xii. i don’t have words yet for the racial-gendered dynamic of what happened/ what’s happening. i go to counselling but i don’t know how to make sense of it and this white counsellor can’t help me. she just stares at me blankly. she tells me stories from her youth about growing up really poor and moving to new york and dating abusive alcoholics, which helps a little bit. but it’s not enough. this white town can’t handle my bullshit and i move to montreal where i spend most of my time alone having one-person dance parties, drinking lots of wine, and watching reality tv on the internet. i get back together with my ex-boyfriend to make the loneliness less intense. he gets violent again. he drinks to numb the pain of everything that ever happened to him. he punches holes in the wall next to my head. he breaks my furniture. he calls me a fucked up slut. it’s getting worse. what should i do? i can’t call the cops. isn’t that betrayal? xiii. the phone rings one day. it’s the bloody cops again. they’ve been trying to reach me for a while now but i keep avoiding their calls because i’m scared i did something wrong without even knowing it and they want to arrest me. this time, i answer. the officer tells me that the guy who raped me has been found guilty for ‘criminal harassment’. his lawyer got him a deal. he has to do community service and stay 100 metres away from me. how is this justice? xiv. i’m still searching for community. i’m still searching my way out of shame. i’m still searching for a Life Lesson in all this. ≠
i'm juice fasting Anna
I thought it was a pretty clear statement. Succinct and to the point. But I soon found out that I needed to explicate. What do you do on a juice fast? Drink juice. What else? Just juice. Any juice? Raw juice. Store bought juice actually causes hunger. Only fresh juice.
I was born twice. Amid two puddles. One supple blossom. My mother’s womb. Flourished in liquid glory. Life was given to me.
Here's where it gets complicated How do you tell an acquaintance that you've hit rock bottom. That the floor fell out on all of your plans. That you just can't take the incessant pain any more. That 2009 had dismantled everything. Pretty easily, actually, it turns out. Just say any one of those things and most people will nod in agreement. They've been there and many of them are there right now. Suffering through chronic pain, a condition of the nervous system, a condition of the mind. Spiritually bereft. Perpetually wondering: what, the, fuck. By the time 2009 came along I had been fired from a slew of jobs, harassed professionally and personally, endured a home invasion and witnessed everything valuable in my life break – my car, my laptop and my iphone; my relationships; my heart, my confidence, my sanity. I was completely at a loss, experiencing acute chronic pain and desperately seeking meaning. I gravitated toward one vital piece of wisdom: Get over it I'd heard it many times in many different ways before but this was the first time it really meant anything. It was the first time it didn't feel judgmental, oppressive or hurtful. A loving push. Let me know I could take control, I am nobody's victim. Uh-uh. Lemme get the fuck on With it Already I spent the entire month of February in preparation mode. The literature recommended that the juice faster take 2 weeks to a month prepping for the fast depending on the quality of the faster's diet. By the time I decided to take on the juice fast I was pretty much living on Detroit gas station groceries (re: ice cream, chips and Twix) on the daily. I gave myself a month. I cut out: . Animal products (I hate to call myself vegan. I am culturally vegetarian. “Vegan” is not a term indigenous to my language or my people)
. Refined sugar (cane sugar, honey and other yummy natural sweet things still allowed) . Processed food (you know like the fake stuff that we call “food” even though we know it's not)
. Caffeine and alcohol (and all other crazy white people drugs that I mostly don't do any way)
All of these things represent physical addictions. As began the process of kicking these behaviors circumstances manifested setting me up to confront the other, nonphysical, tendencies in my life that stood in between me and healing. I peeled away at the habits, cautiously and fearfully exposing the person that was me, beneath it all. Afraid of facing my day, afraid of disappointing others, afraid of failure. I totaled my car crossing 3 busy lanes during afternoon rush hour in Southfield, MI.
And taken away. He who loved, netted me. Stench of sweat, dirt, and fibrous lies, an ill-woven web for butterflies. Pummeled away my existence in a fury of bellowing blows. Turning my flesh into powder. Razor tongue, sliced away my confidence. Set self-thought into oblivion. My impermeable soul compass, diluted by his suffocating perspiration. I became a lost soul. Mixed into murky waters of fear. Past the depth of dead souls. I no longer functioned on will. My body diminished to dust. Individual tiny flecks, scattering particles of a ‘once’ me. Shuffled and settled alone against a crying voice begging me not to retreat. And then... At that Moment... Sparked by a fire. I rose and away I flew. A glorious avifauna. Bent my arms into wings. Pecked my bruised skin into feathers. Bore me strength to fly above. A Plumed Warrior. Sailing over sorrow’s land. Looking, watching, waiting to guide other flocks, beyond the crimson hollow skies.
The suburban white princess who slammed me from behind immediately informed me that the accident would interfere with her plans to show off the botox that she that was just pumped into her eye sockets. I said “I've been hurt.” I realized I was addicted to lateness. Afraid of my past, afraid of loneliness, afraid of failure. I found myself trapped in an Atlanta apartment with a woman who I considered a dear friend and her abusive lover who had turned her violence toward me. I realized I was not trapped, I realized I was addicted to this kind of drama, I realized that everything could be traced back to my own choices. I had chosen to enter this apartment and this situation, on an attempted vacation no less. Amidst the screaming, the threats and the intense pain. The look in my friends eyes that said she was some where else far away from the love we had for each other. I decided: So over it.
Chronic pain lives in the nervous system The information came to me at a time in the fast where I was experiencing the unnerving effects of withdrawal. Disturbed and acutely perceptive, tethered to the earth by a thread, consumed by surreality. Everything – the pain, the hunger, the memories – a product of my mind. My pores, breath and nasal passages exuded toxins. My flesh smelled mildly rotted. It's not like the poison live in any one part of my body, my spine or my muscles, it was the result of a misfiring of my brain. The malfunction oozed out of everything. My sleep schedule no longer governed by sugar highs and food comas, I began to rest in regular intervals and rise with the birds chirping to appreciate the sunrise. I exhibited a controlled irritability. Began to trust that the people in my life would remain attached despite this temporary condition. I slept soundly and woke peacefully trusting each day, despite the unique circumstances, would similarly involve temptation, challenge and resolve.
She told me she was worried about me. I suspect that no mother really wants to hear that her offspring is not consuming any food. So I allowed her the worry. But what I really needed was a replacement car. Correction: what I really needed was a replacement car and I needed to tell them that this is what I really needed from them. What I really needed was a replacement car, I needed to tell them this is what I really needed from them and I needed to hear them understand these statements. It was about this time that the shitting started. It poured out of me like piss out of my asshole. It warranted this kind of crude analogy. I promise you. It was a relief in the most basic and pure sense. It came and went in waves quite frequently from week 1 – 3. The hunger pains built and gained momentum until they climaxed, explosively, in bevy of shit that had called my colon home for a lifetime. In the mean time I underwent extensive talks with my parents. My father insisted that he was not the person I thought he was. He said all of it was a misunderstanding. He misunderstood me and I, even more importantly, misunderstood him. First it made me confused, then confusion gave way to anger and anger gave way to hurt. Then the pain broke in a bevy of shit. I called my mother while driving and unloaded on her everything I could think of. I told her that I was scared. The accident was scary and I needed to hear that everything would be OK. I told her that I needed a mom just like any body else. What ever went down in our home between us, all of that ugly that drove me out of the house and into the struggle that consumed 7 years of my life estranged from parents, brother and extended family. I needed them now. I carried all that with me: impacted feces and judgment, poison and blame. To the market, the office, across the border and back again. Physically, emotionally and spiritually an incredible burden lifted, a sense of clarity took hold. My mother asked I asked
Why you so upset? You remember all the broken down cars we drove as teenage girls breaking down I said Those suburban nights had me scared, Ma
said yes I remember everything that's all we could afford. I said Ya Ma now I remember everything and Yes for the first time I understand.
Your face looks like shit It didn't incite me to hear my father speak this way to me now. He went on to say that my life was shit too, that I was shit. I replied that I was sorry he felt that way. I wished him the best. Told him I loved them both. I said that I hope they do what ever they need to bring health and happiness into their lives again. He screamed some more. Claimed that he was not screaming. Screamed some more. Disowned me. Handed the phone to my mother. My mother rattled off excuses. Attempted to explain what had happened: arriving at my sister's door with the police, refusing to leave, demanding to see her, colluding with the police harassment, banging on the door, ringing the doorbell incessantly, departing only at my behest. Constructing an alternative string of events. I interrupted, Ma I was there too, and I'm here right now and I got my opinions and I don't have the energy to fight with you anymore. It's been 19 days since I consumed anything solid by now. My body refocused the bulk of my energy used to process food into intensive, deep healing. At this stage that the body consumes the toxicity residing within: scar tissue, cancerous cells, tumors, ulcers, what have you. The faster experiences old pains previously left untreated as the body struggled to keep up with the challenges of the daily grind. I stored away these ancient wounds and returned to them now. Yeah, it hurt, but once I began to listen it became clear there wasn't much to be afraid of.
Invincible but not immortal You emeffas aint got shit on me. All of us bitches is gonna die alone anyway. So what you got? I got this body and it's alive. You can love it, rape it, kill it. What you do is on your conscious. The only person I keep tabs on is me. So I forgive myself. For desire and weakness, because I'm not cured and I may not be ever. I forgive myself because I cannot relinquish myself of hurt until I transcend the duality of pain and pleasure. It's a process. One month on juice is just a flash in the pan compared to the 28 years of trauma I am working through every day. I broke my fast approaching the anniversary of my 29th year revolving the sun. It was unceremonious. Every time I eat I think. Food is not necessary, it is a blessing and a luxury, and I love it. I feel the textures in my mouth, savor the flavors, feel the scent in each breath.
Food tastes so good y'all
anna Saini is a Brown girl philosopher, sex worker and twin soul. She spent the first 19 years of her life living under the threat of murder. She is a survivor and, needless to say, a writer who you can find at www.hersight.wordpress.com.
Mas vale tarde que nunca I met my perpetrator when I was sixteen. He was the cousin of a friend. He was three years older than me, and he presented himself in such a way that I thought he was tough and independent and I found that attractive. As soon as we began dating, he became incredibly controlling. He gave me his pager so that he could keep tabs on me. I was expected to always call back right away if he paged me, and we had to speak on the phone multiple times a day. I worked at a grocery store at the time, and he started standing outside and watching me work through the window. When he picked me up from school, instead of waiting in the car in the parking lot for me, he would come up onto school property so that he could see who I was talking to when I walked out of class. Sometimes I could tell that he was lying about where he had been and who'd he'd been with. Some of his other lies took me years to realize. His favorite thing to do was to convince me that previous girlfriends were constantly calling him to get back together, in an effort to make me insanely jealous. It worked. The more he said, the more I felt like I wasn't good enough or pretty enough to keep him and I had to hold on. My perpetrator also got me hooked on cocaine. Even though he couldn't hold a job and was broke as hell he somehow had an endless supply of drugs. We did blow together all of the time, and he made sure that I had my own supply so that I could do it at school, or summer camp, or at my house. I remember doing lines, alone, in my bedroom until my nose bled. Then there was the physical violence and the fear. He punched me in the chin once during an argument. He would make me say degrading and disgusting things when we had sex until it would make me cry. He had several different guns and he would... (I thought I was ready to talk about that but I'm not). He raped me more than once, but I haven't had the strength to call it that until now. For a very long time I didn't think that I could call it rape since we were in a relationship. I know better now, but I still have a hard time saying it. When I found out that I was pregnant, I sat on my bed a cried until I couldn't. How could this have happened to me?? What was I going to do? I was terrified that having a baby with this guy would mean that I'd be connected to him forever, and I was scared that I would get kicked out of my house if my parents found out, so I had an abortion. Finally, I was able to get away from him by getting involved with someone else, who ended up also being controlling, but in different ways. It has been eleven years since this happened to me and I've never told this story in its entirety to anyone. There are details that I've left out of this story because I just can't bring myself to recall everything (or share) that he did. To this day I have panic attacks and I am sometimes triggered during sex. In some ways I feel like I live a double life because I work as a community organizer and I identify as a strong, queer, feminist, sex positive, Latina, but I struggle with whether I have the right to feel so empowered while simultaneously feeling such deep shame and embarrassment about what has happened to me. I would like to be able to say to other survivors of violence that it gets better, but I'm just not there yet. Perhaps I would feel differently if it hadn't taken me eleven years to acknowledge what has happened to me. I am beginning to realize that in order to heal I need to share my story. I need to let my friends, family and community support me. I want to move to a place where I am proud of my struggles and not ashamed of them. Quiero ser una luchadora. Ondine Quinn, firstname.lastname@example.org: I am a queer, latina, sex positive, vegan, artist and activist. I work full time as a community organizer where I help to empower people in central Kentucky to fight against economic and environmental injustice. I like cooking, dancing and playing music - and I'm trying to be at peace with my late twenties :) website: www.ondinequinn.net
i count stars
2004 I smoke a cigarette tonight on our apartment's balcony. Military shells whistle and crash into family homes. For the past couple of weeks, I have been working with a peace organization in the West Bank. Breathing in the sounds of war, I feel like I have returned home. My lover stands next to me and points to the sky. A red flare flies leaving a wake and disappears. “What are you thinking about?” He asks. “My dad.” I flick the cigarette off the balcony. It burns the night sky, flickers like a fire fly, and explodes. 1985 The sun hangs just above the roofs of our neighbors' houses. Dad and I, lean and black, are standing in the driveway facing the light. He points to a white pin prick in the purple sky. “See that star? That is not a star. It is the planet Venus.” I nod my head. “You remember I told you that the sun is a star?” I raise my eyebrows. “You see these stars in the sky? The sun is just like one of these stars. You understand?” “Yes. The sun is a star...” I stare expecting to see the sun burst into a million stars and scatter them over the sky. And then in the morning, all the stars would fly toward each other like iron fillings to a magnet and create the sun. “Time to go inside.” Dad picks me up and carries me inside the house. 1988 I am reading the biography of Albert Einstein, sitting next to my little brother in the backseat of Mom's boyfriend, Cliff's car. Tomorrow we are going to watch parades and fireworks in the city. Cliff starts the engine. I hear pounding on the car. “You ain't taking my kids with that man.” “Oh lord.” Mom looks at Cliff. “Just taking my kids off with some strange man.” “Nat, calm down. We are just going to the city to watch the fireworks. We will be back tomorrow.” Mom and Dad argue in front of Cliff's car. I turn my back to them and hold my breath and pretend I am a big blue balloon floating away. “He is stealing my kids.” “No one is stealing them. I am taking them to go see--” “You ain't taking them nowhere.” Dad grabs my forearm through the opened back door window. Mom snaps his hand off me. “What is your problem? Look at what you are doing to--” “I'm not listening to your bull shit anymore. The kids are staying with me.” Dad opens the back door. “Come on Maisha. Get on out. You are staying with me this weekend.” “But I want to go see the fireworks!” Mom hands our bags to Dad. “It will be okay,”she says “We will go see the fireworks some other time.” I take my brother's hand and we walk to the driveway. I let go of his hand, stick my fingers in my ears, and watch the balloon burst. That evening, I curl into the recliner in the living room and read my book. The air is wet and cloudy with cigarette smoke. Dad paces between the kitchen and the living room, mumbling. His shoulders curve into his chest. “Let me ask you something...” He stops in front of me with his hands on his waist. “Your mom, she ever talk about marrying Cliff ?” “Sometimes.” “We'll see about that.” His arms fold across his chest. His eyes blink off tempo and slow. “Your mom say anything else about her and Cliff getting married?” I look at him. “I'm sure she told you not to talk to me. She don't want me to know what's going on. Thinks I'm stupid.” My brother lays his head in my lap. “You know she ain't coming back. She doesn't want to take care of her kids. She wants to go running off with Cliff. You see how she do. She doesn't want to have nothing to do with you any more. Telling my own daughter not to speak to me.” The next morning, I tip toe into Dad's room. He is sleeping, his mouth gray like the ash floating in the plastic soda bottle beside his
bed. His hand hangs crooked off the side of the bed. I poke his wrist. His arm slightly swings. His head jerks. He opens his eyes. “You okay?” He asks. “I'm okay.” His mustache curls toward his empty cheeks and he closes his eyes. I watch him dream. He hears the hum of machines and insects. Suddenly the world is quiet. The trees shatter and the dirt becomes black. He is running, one step too slow to catch his breath. The Vietnam forest glows neon yellow and the day's humidity seeps into his pants. He forgets how to smell, to eat, to sleep. He chews bugs like gum to kill the nerves. He counts the trees, the steps, the men, the ammunition, the hours on the clock, the stars. He doesn't count the nights, the dead, the forgotten. He never believed in this war, but his fate was drafted. And on the other side of hell, he tells myself on sleepless nights, is a house in the suburbs, two kids, a pretty wife, and a life that is his own. The air red and heavy. The sky explodes. Everyone is running to the horizon. Trucks with machine guns are lingering in road. He looks at his hand, holding a lit cigarette. Red embers eat the tobacco and there is nothing but ash. Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted. Albert Einstein 1990 Mom is driving from the airport and Dad is sitting next to her talking about what he has learned since he moved to California. His eyes sparkle black and his thin arms brush against the car window. He lights a cigarette. Mom raises an eyebrow. “Just one. I stopped smoking around the kids and I think it has made a difference in their health.” He exhales. “I have been watching the news. You can't trust them. You think you can trust those people at your job. They got your file and since we are married they are watching you.” Mom stares at the traffic, clutches the steering wheel and smiles through the rear view mirror at my brother and I in the backseat “I'm telling you this for your own good and for the children's. They are after all of us.” She puts on her blinkers. “I'm sure we are safe.” He shakes his head. “They've got you tricked. They've got you thinking that you can trust them. But they are only letting you keep your job so that they can keep tabs on me. They don't care nothing about you.” Mom turns the steering wheel to the left. “I'm going to stop and get some coffee.” She looks at him. “Do you want some?” “Thanks.” She parks the car at 7-11, opens the door, and walks into the store. Dad lights another cigarette and exhales out the window. “How have you been Maisha?” “Good.” “You doing good in school?” “Yes.” “What are you studying?” “Astronomy.” “Your teachers don't ever ask anything about me, do they?” I shake my head. “Well, if they ever do. You tell them to mind their business. Don't tell them anything about me.” The cigarette slips out of Dad's fingers like a falling star detonating on the black top pavement. 1996 There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle. Albert Einstein It is midnight in the summer. I sit under a tree, my knees pulled to my chest. I am listening to the stars as if they have a secret just for me. My friends are spending these summer nights drinking, smoking, and making out in the back of cars. I don't do that. Mom says that I have to be careful or I will end up like my dad. Schizophrenia is genetic. I gaze at the navy blue sky. The stars start to swirl like a circle dance around the moon. The moon and stars become the sun spinning in the zenith. My mouth opens to taste the light and my hand clutches the bones in front of my heart. I hold my breath and swallow the sun. It erupts inside of me and fills the sky. The stars whisper. “This is the light at the end of the shadow of the valley of death. Some are scared and it burns them like the
fires of hell. Don't be scared.” I lay on the grass. The lights descend and blanket me. I realize that in my dad's dreams he runs away from the bright lights because he believes we are alone. But I count stars and most nights they count me. --------------------------------------------------------------
my soul, my flame is stronger than the trauma if i just sit or lay down and feel the trama. keep coming back the feeling in my body and my mind of the trama everytime i get destracted. at first, i will feel my soul diminishing. feel my inner fire growing more and more cold. but the flame never goes completely out. no matter how much trama there is inside of me or around me. it wont kill my soul. and the more that i try to not feel the trauma, to hold back the trama, the smaller my flame gets. but when i open tot he trauma and feel the pain. i see my soul–at first small, more like the light on a gas stove, small and blue and barely alive–become a blaze! burning through me. but never burning me. i am the burning bush that moses knelt in front of. —————————we are stronger than the trauma, than the rape, than the shame, than the violence, than the broken heart. ————————– trauma is like a ghost that lives in my house. some people lock their traumas in the attack and all day and all night the ghost stomps on the floor and kicks the door demanding to get out. some people put the ghost in the attic when company visits. the company gets spooked and everyone tries to pretend like nothing is going on. but we can let the ghost out of the attic. and sit and chat with him for a bit. discover that he is charming and quiet when he is talking over tea and biscuits. discover that he was only kicking and screaming to get out of the attic. that he misses the sunshine. the ghost puts his hat on his, picks up his briefcase, smiles and nods adieu. opens the front door and disappears as ghosts always do. maybe he will come back again to visit. he will shudder through my body. constricted lungs. a tight fist. bloodied dreams. i will lay down when he comes and open to him. because no matter how many times i scream, your screams will not kill your soul. ————————— our soul is stronger than the pain. no matter how unfair life is, our soul will not die. no matter how many times we are raped, abused, abandoned, left for dead, our soul will survive it. and when we die, we will still be ourselves, just without our bodies, we are immortal. souls. ————————– all of life the good, the bad, the sublime, the horrific, the redemptive, the traumatic, is just a picture frame. our soul is the picture. there are moments in life when we are a beautiful picture in a broken frame ——————— you are. you are. you are. a soul survivor.
divine survivors clinic: radical community healthcare i am offering free reiki treatments to usâ€“ the lovers, the fighters, and the survivors. a way to reduce pain, cleanse and strengthen the body, balance the emotions and experience more clarity and vitality in our lives. the divine survivors clinic began as a vision i had at dawn listening to the fajr call to prayer. i have seen that many of us as doing amazing life-changing work and yet suffer from long terms and short term illnesses. we do not have the time, money, energy to eat well, laugh, meditate, move, and mother ourselves. we live on the edges of society, enduring and resisting with every breath, the various and connected forms of violence. reiki is a specific frequency or wave of energy. i tune into this energy. connect with your mind and body (no matter where you are in the world). and then reiki vibrates throughout your being. allowing you to relax, de-stress, and transmutate toxins in the body. our bodies are constantly rebalancing themselves. stress in the body is like dropping a ball in a full glass of water. of course, some water, displaced by the ball, flows out of the glass. reiki dissolves the stress ball into dust. the dust then flows out of the glass. in our lives, we internalize stress. and our bodies accomodate and balance out the stress. these accomodations often develop into weak energy and illness. reiki helps the bodymind to dissolve and transform the stress. and rebalance itself. and thus we move toward joy and vitality. selah http://divinesurvivorsclinic.wordpress.com/
Miss Celie's Blues
That song, which I love, has come up twice recently, in posts by bloggers I love. You know it, the one from The Color Purple that Shug sings to Celie at the juke joint, the one that gives Celie the courage to poke out her tongue at women who made fun at her. Nubian wrote about why she loves the movie and the song, what she sees of herself in them. And BfP included it in a beautiful tribute to Black Amazon. I had mentioned to nubian, in another place, that I loved the song, that my sister and I sing it to each other quite often. Since then, I've wanted to write about what it means to me. I've balked at the idea--despite all the things I share with y'all, there's lots I don't say. What would people think? I wonder. Is it appropriate--it's not as if my pseudonymity is unbreachable or even particularly well protected. How personal should an aspiring academic get online? But I can't shake it, the desire to write about it. And so I will. I no longer watch The Color Purple from the beginning. I can't take it-Mister's abuse of Celie, the separation from Nettie, the attack on Sophia, and all the other pain is too much. I have to pick it up deep into the film. Usually when Celie's about to cut Mister at the dinner table. I can't take Miss Celie's pain because it mirrors my own. I know her too well, it feels like. The childhood sexual abuse by a man you should've been able to trust. That first unexpected slap just for speaking your mind. That moment when you touch that newly-inflicted injury with your hand, feeling the blood and still not believing that he could do that, that he would do that. Scrambling to have everything just so, only to be told that it's not right. It's never right. Lying still and squeezing your eyes shut, because it's just easier to go along with it--it can't really be rape if you're in a relationship. Because that would mean you'd been raped more than once. And no one will believe you've been raped more than once. And I know why she hid her smile behind her hand, too. Oh, yes, part of it is because you don't deserve to be happy. Hell, if you did, all those things wouldn't keep happening to you. But another part is, don't-look-atme, I-don't-want-the-attention. Because, you reason, after you're abused repeatedly, there must be something about you, something that attracts the attention of abusers, something you're doing wrong. So you struggle to make yourself as small, as invisible as possible. I did that. And in the back of my mind, I nurtured a love for another song, His Eye Is on the Sparrow. Because I believed those words--that if God cared about a plain, little bird, then surely I, as small as I tried to be, meant something. But, of course, there's another part to The Color Purple, the part I can watch, the part with which I am beginning to identify. When Celie makes it out. My journey out didn't begin as beautifully as hers did--with letters from her beloved sister (or, perhaps, from the moment she met Shug) or as satisfyingly--when she told Mister off, fearlessly, at that family dinner. It began in three places, I believe. In my home--I woke up one night from a dream, crying, thinking, what would I be if all those things hadn't happened to me? That was a catalyst, in a sense, because I'd fooled myself
into believing that I wasn't really affected anymore, that I was in control of my life, that I wasn't like other women because I'd only been hit three or four times, and I could get out at any point because I had the education and the income, and on and on. In my mind--because I had a child. And I did not want him growing up seeing me abused or learning to be abusive. In a doctor's office--after the last sexual assault, when I'd decided to call the police. I spent my 28th birthday in a police car and an examining room. I refused the rape exam--he hadn't been able to penetrate because, tired of lying there and closing my eyes, I'd fought his ass back. And I still couldn't wrap my mind around the idea of my being raped. What I did let them do was swab my face. I suppose he'd considered that consolation humiliation. But something else happened too. I had to talk to a rape counselor and best friend Texas was in the room. At one point, the counselor asked me something like, "You don't think very much of yourself, do you?" I said no. And best friend Texas started crying. It dawned on me that, for some reason, she thought much of me. And I used that, her love and the love of my other friends and family, who were outraged when I didn't feel I had a right to be, who thought much of me-old, fat, not much more than a little brown sparrow, me. I used it to edify me while I was trying to develop some self love. I can never explain what my best friends, my sister, and my closest cousins have been to me. Never. So like, Miss Celie, I made it out, too, in a way. I don't think I am as triumphant as she was, not yet. But I do know, for certain, that when I shimmy for my sister and laugh and sing that part, "I'm something, I hope you think that you're something, too," I know that coming from nothing, from sparrowness, I mean it with everything in me. elle is trained as a historian, but loves examining the ways in which popular culture reinforces and perpetuates racial, gender, and sexual hierarchies. at heart, she is a writer and words are some of her favorite things. currently, she is navigating single mamahood, life in the egregiously ivory tower, and tenure-clock imposed deadlines.
Porque no soy Rihanna, the night I was left bruised no one made a big deal of it save a few people. Some told me I needed to leave, now. Others told me that yes it was a big deal pero that it didn’t mean the end of the relationship. Others said, plan mujer plan. Stay quiet and plan. I knew what it meant to me. I don’t know why I took a picture of the bruise left on one of my arms when I was thrown to the ground. Somewhere in the back of my head maybe I was planning to call the police. Perhaps it was for my own remembering, so that I wouldn’t forget. I still haven’t forgiven. The whispers were still there, they questions as to why I stayed for so long as if I had a world of options available to me and my two children y porque no me llamo Rihanna the story isn’t one on the front pages of revistas and on bochinche shows even though it isn’t just my story. It’s mine and Rihanna’s and millions, millions of others. Porque no eres Rihanna no one took pictures of you mujer that snowy March night even though I counted a dozen people who noticed the way he pushed you on the sidewalk and yelled obscenities in your face. Only three teenage girls and I stayed on the street slowly moving towards you figuring out if he was some stranger or someone you knew not that that should matter. The teenage girls and I would not leave you. We asked if you were ok and if we could do anything. You said yes to call 911. That he was drunk. The two of you moved towards the closing doors of the fast food restaurant where again people watched pero did nothing porque you weren’t Rihanna no one took a picture. I stood in between you and him as he he spit how you were his wifey. I told him that was no way to treat wifey. In the end you decided that you didn’t want to wait for the police that you wanted to go home with him and you did
A la mujer the other nite on 63rd Drive and the team of chicas who stepped up
and the teenage girls and I watched quietly motionless in the street hoping and praying it would all be ok for you. Pero porque no somos Rihanna no one talks about the bigger picture just the tv picture until now hopefully
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attending the funeral of kin & abusers
the house was complete. he couldn’t leave the hospital, had his laptop by his side mournful and missing, we circle like ravens these abysses hiding horrors of what and that and lost. but I saw themtired, on the way to the cemetery sitting next to the accusers strange things narrated the conversations i’m not having as if in the deepest slumber they are guilty, here I sit i’m not lost, escalofrios, know the reasons mad at the conversations talk of shoes, dry washing the pain the afterbirth, as overpowering as it was his left hand boiling alcohol, speaking of sins on the pulpit or in cemeteries private dicks we smell murder hide behind the deaths see you behind coffins until next timedangerous writing is, like getting up just can’t some mornings wait for beautiful nights laughing at the doom & masks.
OUT <noemi martinez> don’t know how to go from a to b or get anywhere when someone tells you they don’t need to respect you. like-when respect is not needed, what else can you say. when you need to talk to this person every single day for probably the rest of your life. let me think about this-I don’t warrant the least amount of respect from whom I share blood/bones/flesh in common. I don’t understand this. I don’t understand what can I say or do to make it not like this. this is psychological abuse. I know it. I see it. And I don’ t know how to just get away from this because its just not that easy. And really, if one more person fucking tells me to just brush it off, to to let the words bounce off you, I’ll implode. Don't explain reporting or "standing up for myself" or guilt me by saying I should know better. to be treated like this. because I have that power. So tell me exactly how this is done when there is blood/bones/flesh involved and years past and years to come. And I don’t know how it can be that someone I have no invested feelings with, can make me feel a little dead inside. its systematic, meant to injure. methodical. unrelenting. Tiring.</end>
psalm for the taken
in honour of the missing and murdered womyn of the Downtown Eastside somebody’s baby is flotsam down the river somebody’s mama somebody’s song a throat exposed to vultures and sun somebody is mountain moved this body once limber with dance soft opening to kisses a body presumptuous enough to hazard loving in blister blasted shins second hand heels and nicotine pout shining supernova on streets grim with lonely braving fatal menace of police and pimps this body sliced eaten thin and thoughtless somebody we are all singing her ghost this choir adding our salt to sea bearing her spine like ship a wide sail visible and vociferous in climate intent on our wreckage she is goddess gathering us sweet grass where the wasting begins young and spreads unabated her ligaments bending still to comfort loud newborn hunger soothe wrinkles from eyes all cried out died out this march of trigger trusting uniforms carries no peace between bullets and batons worshipful our words cannot restore her temple looted and smashed still her spleen is sacred replenish us old medicine for sisters in shadows the man cannot steal our remembrances this splitting in my heart has got no dollar value this wanting for you beats through somebody’s lover is left cheekbones once caressed to silk crushed cherry petal in mud somebody’s sister sharing warmth of womb and hands held in gardens dusk lit arms and legs a tangle in moon rinsed blanket somebody’s star is sacrifice to heaven sewing in our skins miracles when we are too shattered to pray. Cynthia Oka is a poet, single mom and community organizer currently residing on Unceded Coast Salish Territories (what is now known as Vancouver, Canada). Born and raised as a member of the Chinese diaspora in Bali, Cynthia and her family migrated to Canada in 1995 to escape ethnic persecution that is one of the many destructive legacies of English, Dutch and Japanese colonization in Indonesia. Presently, her life and labour are dedicated to revolutionary work in solidarity with other single moms of colour, indigenous communities, and displaced peoples including immigrants, refugees and nondocumented workers.
[[image on back: tk karakashian tunchez is committed to working on truth-telling projects that are based on her own (mestizaje/mayanfemme/diva-radical border/crossing/goddess adoptee- single/teen/welfare/queen/mamaspanglish/speaking/queerashell/academically/impacted/lived experience/taught) identity. tk is a community organizer, collective bookstore worker-owner, educator, youth worker and the founder and To tell you the Truth & the truthandhealingproject blog and has worked with radical truth-telling media formats including performance-based and multidisciplinary projects.]]
tk karakashian tunchez